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Pets: Dog days of summer

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After attending all of the summer festivals, I was very surprised by the amount of dogs that attend them. Every year I think how much fun my dogs would have if I took them with me to attend, but then I remember, 'Oh, you're a dog; you have a fur coat! If I'm sweating, you must be ready to pass out!' The first festival we attended this year was the BAM Fest, where we had set up a booth. It was 90 degrees outside, and every person who had a dog that passed could not understand why their dogs where running to our covered tent, which was equipped with a water bowl and fan. All the owners would exclaim, 'Oh my gosh, they love you. You're the dog people.' To that I would reply, 'No—your dog is just really hot.'

Dogs have fur coats. I don't get why people ignore that. Yes, your dog loves the outdoors. Yes, it's fun to bring your dog with you places that allow dogs. But is it really that fun for your dogs when the hot sun is beating down on their backs? Probably not. Actually, I'll go with defi- nitely not.

The next worst thing you can do besides drag poor Fido out in the sun for two to six hours is to shave your dog. You don't walk out into the forest and see too many coyotes and foxes shaving themselves in the summer—and somehow, just somehow, they manage to survive. Dogs' coats have a natural cooling and heating system. If you have shaved off their fur, you have taken away the cooling system nature gave them and have replaced it with the sun beating down on their skin, which will overheat them even faster.

My last issue for today involves dogs and water. Letting your dog swim, contrary to popular belief, will overheat them faster than walking around. The dog beach is an awesome way of spending about 30 minutes on a super-hot day.

If your dog is running around the beach wet, it will have a nice shiny coat that will absorb the sun's rays, thus heating them up even faster.

Since I have complained about everyone doing the wrong thing, here are a few things to keep you and Fido out for a bit longer. Bring a portable water dish with you give water every 5-10 minutes, You must make sure to keep them hydrated! Bring a spray bottle with you. You can spray down your dog's stomach and the front of its neck to cool them down. Never put water on its back or head; you don't want it where the sun can hit it. Remember, the sun hitting wet back = bad. Keep these things in mind when your dog looks like he's going to pass out, and please take him home. You may be having fun, but that big smile on his face comes from desperately trying to breathe, not from the wonderful hot summer adventure to which you have brought him. Have a great summer and please keep those puppies cool!

Courtney Simon is a canine trainer and behavior specialist at the Chicago academy of dog Training, 2338 W. Nelson. Call 773-325-0400 or visit .


These baby bunnies were born the day their mom was given up at Red Door Animal Shelter. They are almost eight weeks old and will be ready for adoption soon. Pictured ( from left ) are Domino, Shea, Panda, Ling-Ling and Squiggy. E-mail info@RedDoorShelter. org, call 773-764-2242 or visit .

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